The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973 Page: 419
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The Houston Mutiny and Riot of 1917 419
As acting Mayor Dan M. Moody later stated, the "feeling that some-
thing was going to happen [was] in the air" from the moment the
Twenty-fourth Infantry arrived on Saturday, July 28, 1917.3 The white
citizens were apprehensive about the presence in their city of armed
blacks wearing the uniform of the United States Army, especially since
as military guards the soldiers would be in a position to exercise au-
thority over them. The Houston Chamber of Commerce carefully de-
bated whether or not to allow these soldiers in the city and acquiesced
only after the War Department had informed its president that black
troops alone were available for such duty and that they would remain
in Houston no longer than seven weeks. Anxious not to jeopardize the
city's chances to gain lucrative federal contracts, the chamber promised
"that, in a spirit of patriotism, the colored soldiers would be treated all
The city authorities made no more mention of their coming than
was necessary. As soon as the Third Battalion arrived, however, the
local newspapers began a campaign to educate the white citizens about
the exceptional talents, the good moral character, and the strict disci-
pline characteristic of black soldiers in the regular army. In an inter-
view with a reporter for the Houston Post, Major W. A. Trumbull,
Quartermaster at Camp Logan, maintained that the Negro soldier was
"a 'bear-cat' as a fighter," that discipline in the ranks was "almost per-
fect," and that the soldiers were recruited from the "best and most in-
telligent negroes in the country." Even more capable, he asserted, were
the black noncommissioned officers who were "among the most efficient
in the army." Trumbull explained that it was "harder to get to be a non-
commissioned officer in a negro regiment than it [was] to get a commis-
3 Houston Post, August 25, 1917. Major W. A. Trumbull, Camp Logan Quartermaster,
later praised the efforts of William Newman, commander of the Third Battalion, "to make
harmony under great difficulty" because of the "attitude of the people of Houston against
the negro soldier. When it was announced that the battalion of the Twenty-fourth Infan-
try was coming there for guard, the people thought it couldn't be done without trouble,
and I think that attitude simply breeds trouble." Statement of Trumbull, September 5,
1917, in "List of Witnesses examined," by Cress and attached to Cress Report as Appen-
dix A, p. 117. This "List" will hereafter be cited as Cress Report, Appendix A. See also
statement of Colonel William Newman, September 20o, 1917, Records of the Office of the
Inspector General, General Correspondence File No. 333.9, Record Group 159 (Federal
Records Center, Suitland, Maryland).
4 Adjutant General H. P. McCain to Congressman Jeff McLemore, August 22, 1917, Jeff
McLemore Collection (Archives, University of Texas Library, Austin); statement of New-
man, September 20o, 1917, Records of Inspector General, RG, 159. Quote is from Newman's
statement. The Houston Post reported that the construction of Camp Logan alone would
involve "an outlay of $2,ooo,ooo000...." Houston Post, July 23, 1917.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973, periodical, 1973; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/m1/475/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.